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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Luiz 4/10, Leno 5/10 after red cards doom Arsenal

Arsenal’s seven-game unbeaten run came to a bizarre end following a 2-1 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League.

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– Report: Wolves defeat nine-man Arsenal

The visitors had taken the lead in Tuesday’s game and looked odds on to make it 20 points out of a possible 24, but everything changed on the stroke of half-time. With the Gunners 1-0 up and coasting, thanks to Nicolas Pepe‘s impressive finish with his right foot after 30 minute, David Luiz brought down Daniel Podence inside the area and was subsequently sent off. Ruben Neves scored the resultant penalty.

The home side then came out quickly after the break and Joao Moutinho scored his first goal at home with a spectacular pinpoint strike from distance. Bernd Leno was then sent off to compound Mikel Arteta’s misery as Arsenal finished the game with nine men, bringing an end to their impressive recent run of form.

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Positives

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Arsenal were quick out of the blocks and put Wolves under intense pressure from the kick-off. The Gunners’ passing was slick, and they looked full of confidence, breaking forward in numbers and causing Wolves problems every time they went forward. Pepe showed signs of the quality Arsenal fans expect of him.

Negatives

Arteta will have been frustrated that his side were unable to take advantage of their early dominance. The game should have been out of sight before Wolves levelled, before the Gunners were punished for their profligacy when Wolves levelled from the spot on the stroke of half-time.

Manager rating out of 10

5 — Arteta looked to have selected a potent mix as his side threatened to run riot in the first 45 minutes, but he was put to the test following Luiz’s dismissal. Arsenal were blunt in attack following the removal of Lacazette at half-time. Should he have left Lacazette on the pitch and reverted to three at the back instead?

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Bernd Leno, 5 — Leno was red-carded late on after handling the ball outside of the area, which saw the Gunners go down to nine men when 2-1 down. Prior to that error, Leno hadn’t been able to stop Neves from the spot or deny Moutinho’s stunning strike.

DF Hector Bellerin, 5 — The right-back was often guilty of slowing Arsenal’s offensive play and was wasteful in possession. Definitely the weak link in Arsenal’s back four.

DF Rob Holding, 5 — Beaten too easily on too many occasions, Holding was guilty of backing off his opponents. He did little to help Luiz in the build-up to the penalty, leaving space open for Wolves to attack.

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DF David Luiz, 4 — The Brazilian was having a solid evening until injury time of the first half when, after having lost Podence, he brought the Portuguese winger down and was sent off. Neves despatched the resulting penalty. Sound familiar? Ultimately, that moment changed the game.

DF Cedric Soares, 6 — Cedric was effective at both ends. He was eager to support Pepe on the overlap in the first half and solid at the back, but his forward forays were limited after the break.

MF Thomas Partey, 7 — With so much time on the ball in the middle, the Ghana international’s passing and forward runs carved open the Wolves defence. He set up Saka twice in the opening 15 minutes and continued to dominate, though his influence waned when Arsenal went down to 10 men.

MF Granit Xhaka, 5 — He made his 200th appearance in all competitions for Arsenal, but lost his head in the second half when he gave away too many needless fouls.

MF Bukayo Saka, 7 — The youngster enjoyed an electric start to the game. He hit the post inside 35 seconds and then forced Rui Patricio into a save three minutes later. Five minutes later, he had a goal disallowed when Lacazette strayed offside. He disappeared in the second half, though, as Arsenal struggled against 11 men.

MF Emile Smith Rowe, 6 — Partey stole the show, but Smith yre,Rowe’s movement in the first half was equally impressive. He ghosted from side to side with great efficiency, though served as a bystander for much of the second half.

MF Nicolas Pepe, 7 — The Frenchman struck the bar and then went one better when he grabbed his seventh of the season just after the half-hour mark. He nutmegged two players — albeit rather fortunately — before scoring with an unstoppable right-footed effort. Was later replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

FW Alexandre Lacazette, 6 — The lone striker was heavily involved from the start, though he unfortunately drifted into an offside before passing the ball back to Saka, who found the net but subsequently saw his goal chalked off. Unfortunately, Lacazette was substituted as a result of Arteta’s tactical reshuffle at the break.

Substitutes

DF Gabriel Magalhaes (Lacazette, 45), 6 — Magalhaes looked solid when he came on, which was no mean feat considering the Gunners faced a lot of pressure. Made some timely interceptions.

FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Pepe, 61) 5 — Arsenal lacked attacking options after the break and so it was hoped Aubameyang would be able to help them hold the ball up in the Wolves half, but he was ineffectual.

GK Runar Alex Runarsson (Partey, 74) N/A — The 25-year-old goalkeeper was impressive when he came on. He made a confidence-boosting save from Neto before saving well again, this time from Vitinha.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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